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On the (re)appropriation of black aesthetics in music and nightlife w/ Black History Month & Vice
How have elements of Black cultures been (re)appropriated in fashion and nightlife?
w/ MC, rapper and founder of theKEEPERS Akua Naru, fashion creative Jonathan ‘Jon The Gold’ Zegbe, PR and visual creative Selene Alexa and former fashion marketer Eric Cyuzuzo
The conversation is moderated by Rachael Moore and was recorded on the 10th of March 2021.
Akua Naru is a Hip Hop artist, organizer, producer, activist, and whose work centers Black liberation. Her music, deeply nuanced, poetic and wise, theorizes the myriad experiences of Black women through rhyme along a sonic spectrum from Jazz to Soul. She is co-founder of the production/management company, The Urban Era, and, to date, has released four albums alongside a wide range of additional artistic content. Akua has performed hundreds of shows in more than fifty countries across five continents with her 6-piece band. With her social justice work, Akua has collaborated with an array of individuals and organizations globally in order to instigate change. Akua Naru was a Nasir Jones Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University (2018-19) and is the current Race & Media Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America at Brown University. She is founder of theKEEPERS collective & inventor of theKEEPER digital archive for women in Hip Hop.
Selene Alexa is a freelance PR, A&R specialized in visual identity content, based in Brussels. After working on several PR campaigns and on two editions of Fire is Gold festival, she decided to start a freelance career in 2018. Using her PR background, she collaborated with numerous Belgian Press agencies on international campaigns. Later, as an independent visual creative she brought her vision to artistic projects in the music industry, elaborating with them their own visual aesthetic. Today, as an A&R for Fifty Fifty Session new group, she’s bringing her personal touch through art direction and styling.
Jonathan Zegbe, also known as Jon The Gold, is an opinionated fashion creative based in Antwerp with roots in Congo. He finds his interest in art direction, styling, music and marketing.
Eric Cyuzuzo is a sociocultural organizer involved in various Brussels-based platforms that seek to foreground the stories of Black People at their intersecting identities. He studied fashion management, marketing & communications, wrote for fashion publications and then occupied different marketing positions within the fashion industry for 2 years, before moving on to the cultural sector in 2019.
Rachael Moore is a British born LGBT activist who lives and works in Brussels. With a background in youth empowerment, LGBT rights and advocacy, Rachael is no stranger to dealing with discrimination in both social and professional settings. Previously she worked at the European Parliament and as the director of Rainbowhouse Brussels. Together with Eric Cyuzuzo, she co-founded Rainbow Nation Brussels, an organization that pushes for a different narrative regarding the visibility of QTIBPOC through pushing for diversity, inclusivity and multiculturalism that is not defined by whiteness, with a true ‘Nothing about Us without Us’ stance with regards to how the LGBT community deals with its own issues of racism, transphobia and xenophobia. Rainbow Nation Brussels also provides support group meetings for QTIBPOC and organizes community-building activities for victims of racism. Rachael is also cofounded SHAKEDOWN Bxl which organises cultural events that centralise queer and trans women and femme persons. Additionally, Rachael works as a consultant with regards to intersectionality and anti-racism.
Black History Month Belgium (BHM BE) is an annual celebration, during the month of March, of the Black communities of Belgium, in the present and the past. It is an attempt to transform the way in which we represent the past and the present through conversations, exchange moments, lectures, film, debates, performances and exhibitions. Through a people's history from below (the past told from the perspective of everyday people instead of leaders), BHM BE strives to make history more honest/truthful and inclusive, regardless of our socio-economic, ethnic or cultural backgrounds. The ultimate motivation is to demonstrate the importance of conserving and promoting cultural diversity and the right to culture for everyone in our society. The theme for BHM BE 2021 is Collecting Our Past and Future: Archiving and Documenting the Past, Future and Present of Black People in Belgium.